Nov. 25, 2002
Tedford's Club Ends Win Drought vs. Stanford
Propelled by senior tailback Joe Igber, who rushed for a Big Game record 226 yards, the resurgent California Golden Bears climaxed their remarkable turnaround season by shellacking Stanford, 30-7, at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley last Saturday. The triumph, played before Cal's first sellout (71,224) since 1994, halted a seven-year Stanford victory streak in the Big Game, and also clinched the Bears' first winning season since 1993.
In a crowning performance, Igber uncorked electrifying runs of 55 and 42 yards in the greatest rushing game of his career and fifth-best rushing effort in Cal's 120 seasons of football. The elusive 5-8, 190-pound back finished his career as the school's No. 2 all-time rusher with 3,124 yards, while his 2002 output of 1,130 yards ranked third on Cal's single season list.
However, it was not merely the Joe Igber Show on Saturday. Utilizing the theme that had worked so well all season, the Bears excelled in all three phases of football against Stanford.
Sparked by defensive end Tom Canada's three-sack afternoon, the Cal defense smothered its crossbay rivals in limiting the Cardinal to 261 total yards and its lowest Big Game scoring total (seven points) in 35 years. Canada, who also forced a fumble and recovered a fumble, was aided by the clutch interceptions of freshman rover Donnie McCleskey and senior linebacker Paul Ugenti.
Special teams, which has blocked seven kicks (four punts, three kicks) and scored five touchdowns as arguably the Pac-10's finest unit this year, shined again in the 2002 finale. Leading the pack was the punt return team, which sprung Jemeel Powell loose for an 84-yard touchdown jaunt in the third quarter that sealed the win.
Rising from the ashes of a 1-10 season in 2001-the worst at Cal in 104 years-Coach Jeff Tedford's club finished with a 7-5 mark that many thought would have been impossible to achieve. The team's 5.5-game improvement from last year equals the second biggest turnaround in Cal history. And by winning six more games than last year, the Bears enjoyed the largest one-year turnabout in NCAA Division 1-A football this season.
California Posts First Winning Season in Nine Years
Not only did California rebound dramatically from last year's 1-10 debacle, the 7-5 Bears established themselves as a nationally respected program almost overnight. Saturday's 30-7 Big Game victory clinched Cal's first winning season since 1993, when Keith Gilbertson's club etched a 9-4 mark. By shredding Arizona State, 55-38, in Tempe Nov. 9, the 2002 Bears became the first Cal team in history to score three road wins against nationally-ranked opponents in the same season. In fact, it had been 52 years since a Cal team had simply beaten three nationally ranked teams in the same campaign period-46-22 at No. 15 Michigan State, 34-27 at No. 12 Washington and 55-38 at No. 25 Arizona State. And national media began to take notice of this upstart team. In the Associated Press poll, the Bears were ranked 23rd on Sept. 15, and received 80 votes-29th most in the nation-Oct. 6. They also ranked 30th (26 votes) on Oct. 20, and ranked 39th in yesterday's published AP poll. To add further credibility, the New York Times' Computer Rankings ranked Cal 12th in the country as the Pac-10's highest-rated school on Oct. 6. California's seven wins this year represent almost as many victories as California had registered in its previous three years combined (1-10 in '01, 3-8 in '00 and 4-7 in '99).
Three of Bears' Losses Decided by Combined 14 Points
The Bears came oh-so-close to registering a 10-2 record this year. Three of their five losses came by a combined total of 14 points-Pac-10 leaders Washington State (now 9-2) and USC (9-2), and Air Force (8-4)-that have posted a current aggregate record of 26-8 this year. A closer look at those three reed-thin defeats:
Air Force 23, Cal 21 (Sept. 21): In the narrow setback to Air Force, a two-point conversion try went awry when a Kyle Boller to Joe Igber pass was batted away at the last second with only 31 seconds left on the clock-a play that probably would have sent the game into overtime if successful.
Washington State 48, Cal 38 (Sept. 28): Cal settled for a game-tying field goal (38-38) by Mark Jensen with 7:33 remaining in the game against then-nationally No. 16 ranked Washington State, the Pac-10 pre-season favorite. But the Cougars rallied with 10 points down the stretch to avoid a Bear upset.
USC 30, Cal 28 (Oct. 12): The Bears bolted out to a 21-3 early advantage over USC, only to lose the lead in the second half before rallying in the late going. Trailing 27-21 with 3:23 left in the game, Cal forced a Trojan fumble and had a chance to go ahead before a Boller interception pass squelched any comeback notions.
California Sets School's Modern Day Scoring Mark with 427 Points, Leads Pac-10 with 35.6 PPG Average
Spewing out 35.6 points per game, the Bears rank first in scoring offense among Pac-10 teams and are rated 10th nationally. Remarkably, Cal outscored last year's team by 226 points, cashing in 53 touchdowns and 427 points in its 12 games this season. In comparison, last year's Cal squad tallied 24 TDs and 201 points total over an 11-game schedule and ranked 104th nationally in scoring average (18.3 ppg). In fact, Jeff Tedford's club rattled off 34 points or more seven times this year. A season ago, the Bears didn't score 34 points even once all year (season high: 28 points twice, vs. Washington and at Stanford). The 427 points this season set the school's modern day record, eclipsing the 1991 club that tallied 406 points in 11 games. The Bears' 55-point outburst at ASU in Week 10 marked the first time Cal has scored 55 points or more twice in a season since 1922 (also 70 vs. Baylor). That '22 club reeled off wins of 80-0 vs. the Mare Island Marines, 61-0 vs. Washington State and 61-13 over Nevada.
Boller Ends Career Ranked 1st in TDs (64), 2nd in Yards (7,980) on Cal's All-Time Passing Lists
Perhaps the nation's most improved quarterback this year, Kyle Boller finally realized his potential under the tutelage of first-year head coach Jeff Tedford and offensive coordinator George Cortez. Named one of 14 semifinalists for the Davey O'Brien Award, which is presented annually to college football's top quarterback, Boller capped his collegiate career as a four-year starter with one of the greatest passing seasons in school history. Passing such legendary Cal quarterbacks as Craig Morton, Joe Kapp, Steve Bartkowski and Joe Roth, Boller finished No. 2 on the Bears' career passing yardage list with 7,980 yards, only 146 yards shy of Troy Taylor's all-time mark of 8,126. The only Pac-10 quarterback to throw for five touchdown passes twice this season, Boller passed for 200 yards or more in 10 of his 12 outings this year. With a school-record 64 touchdown passes during his Berkeley tenure, he currently is tied with USC's Carson Palmer for the Pac-10 lead with 28 TD strikes this year. Among his achievements, Boller orchestrated upset road wins over two Top 15 opponents-Michigan State (43-22) and Washington (34-27)-in the same season for the first time in school history. His 64 touchdown passes also rank seventh on the Pac-10 career chart, while his 28-to-10 TD/interception ratio ranks among the best in the league this year. The Golden-armed Bear's 28 TD tosses are second most on Cal's single season list-trailing Pat Barnes (31 in 1996) by three-and ranks fifth in Pac-10 annals. In 2002, Boller threaded 53.4% of his attempts (225-421) for 2,815 yards, the second-best single-season yardage mark in school annals behind Barnes' 3,499 yards in '96. The Bear signal-caller also tied Barnes for the school's single season mark for most touchdowns responsible for with 32 TDs this year-an average of 2.66 per game-also rushing for three scores and catching a pass for another touchdown. His 16.0 points per game ranks second in the Pac-10 (behind USC's Carson Palmer) and tied for fifth nationally in Points Responsible For. Some of Boller's success should be credited to Cal's reconstructed offensive line, which allowed 25 sacks (third-lowest in Pac-10) in 12 games this year.
Bears Boast +18 Turnover Margin to Rank Seventh Nationally; Cal's 21 Fumble Recoveries Leads Nation
The Golden Bears, despite allowing 392.8 yards per game to rank ninth in Pac-10 defense, were one of the nation's best in the all-important turnover department. In 2002, Cal forced 36 turnovers and committed only 18 for a conference-leading TO margin of +18-the nation's seventh-best figure (+1.50 per game). In fact, that +18 figure is the school's best turnover margin since 1951, when Pappy Waldorf's 8-2 Bears finished with a +21 differential. The Bears lived on the other side of the turnover ledger in 2001, finishing 114th out of 115 Division I-A schools with a woeful -17 margin. The club's 36 takeaways (tied for 3rd in NCAA) this fall are 18 more than Cal managed in an 11-game slate last season. Included in that total are a nation-leading 21 fumble recoveries, which is 11 more than last season's output. What's more, Cal scored no less than 121 points off turnovers this season. The TO wars were particularly telling in first halves, when the bend-but-don't-break Bears coughed up only eight turnovers all year in posting a collective +13 mark during the first 30 minutes of their games. Cal leads the conference in turnovers gained with its 36 total.
Powell Finishes Tied for 7th on Cal's All-Time Interception List with 10 Picks
Senior cornerback Jemeel Powell finished his collegiate career as one of the greatest interception artists in Cal football history. Powell, who is tied for the Pac-10 lead with five interceptions (0.42 per game) this year, made 10 career picks to tie for seventh place on the school's all-time list. He also broke up 13 passes in 2002, giving him 32 for his career to rank second on Cal's all-time list (Chidi Iwuoma leads with 35 passes broken up from 1997-2000).
McArthur, Makonnen & Ward Form Cal's WR Triumvirate
Cal's wide receiving corps was upgraded considerably from last year, with City College of San Francisco transfer Jonathan Makonnen leading the charges with 54 receptions for 682 yards and seven touchdowns. Other key pass-catchers from the wideout spots include senior LaShaun Ward (39 rec., 709 yds., 9 TDs) and sophomore Geoff McArthur (36 rec., 454 yds., 1 TD). Makonnen, who hauled in a game-high seven passes for 69 yards against Stanford, caught at least three passes in 11 of the team's 12 games. Ward's nine TD grabs led the club and tied for third most in Cal history for a single season.
Three Negative Streaks Came Crashing Down in 2002
Coach Tedford put an axe to more than the 2002 Big Game. He led his Golden Bears to three victories this year that mercifully ended long losing streaks. The first win came in Seattle Oct. 5, as the Bears beat the Huskies, 34-27, to halt a 19-game losing streak to Washington that had spanned 26 years. Then on Nov. 9, Cal exorcised another demon when it snapped a 12-year victory drought in Tempe, Ariz. by thumping the Arizona State Sun Devils, 55-38. The Bears had previously dropped five straight at Sun Devil Stadium, all by blowout scores. And last weekend, Tedford's troops capped their remarkable season by scoring their first Big Game win over Stanford in eight years.
Igber's Final Flurry Vaults Him Past Muncie into 2nd Place on Cal's Career Rushing List with 3,124 Yards
After being harnessed to only 133 combined yards in his previous three games, senior running back Joe Igber burst loose for 460 yards on 75 carries during the final three outings of his career against Arizona State (30-144), Arizona (19-90) and Stanford (26-226). In zooming to 1,130 yards on 241 carries this year, the Nigerian native became Cal's first player to rush for 1,000 yards in a season since 1993 (Lindsey Chapman, 1,037) and only the ninth Bear to do so in history. With his career-best 226 yards on Saturday, Igber cranked out 10 100-yard rushing performances in his career, tying the late John Olszewski for third most in Cal history. Only Russell White and Chuck Muncie, who both rushed for 100 yards 15 times, have more century games. Averaging 94.2 ground yards per game this season-the third-best figure in the Pac-10-Igber's career rushing total rose to 3,124 yards at season's end. His 1,130 yards this season almost tripled his output from last year, when he rushed for only 399 yards on 94 carries before missing the Bears' final four games with a fractured clavicle. In addition, the diminutive Igber-who stockpiled 538 all-purpose yards over his last three games-finished fourth on Cal's career all-purpose yardage chart with 3,879.
California Faced Some of Nation's Most ProlificWide Receivers During 2002 Campaign
It seemed almost every week this season, Cal faced a dangerous home run threat at wide receiver. The list included Michigan State's Charles Rogers, Washington State's Devard Darling, Washington's Reggie Williams, USC's Mike Williams, Arizona State's Shaun McDonald, and Arizona's Bobby Wade.
Banta-Cain, Canada Rank Among Pac-10's Top 4 in Sacks with 25 Combined
Tully Banta-Cain, who pillaged opposing quarterbacks for 13 sacks this year and 21 over the past two campaigns, ranked second in the conference in sacks in 2002. Fellow defensive end Tom Canada added 12 sacks to rank fourth in the Pac-10, as the Cal duo became the school's first tandem to hit double-digit sacks in the same season since 1999. Banta-Cain's 26.5 career sacks ranked third on Cal's all-time list, while his 13 sacks and 22 tackles for loss both rank second behind ASU's Terrell Suggs among Pac-10 leaders this year. In addition, his 13 QB dumps this season were only one-half sack shy of the Bears' single season mark of 13.5 by Andre Carter in 2000.
Bears Outscored Foes by Eye-Bulging 244-127 in First Halves This Year
Roaring out of the gates like few others, the new-and-improved Cal Bears feasted on 2002 opponents in the first half this year. The Bears, who trailed at halftime only twice all season, outscored their foes by a whopping 244-127 margin in first halves. That's a complete reversal from last season, when California was outscored by a 231-105 count in first halves. Cal was been particularly lethal in first quarters, outscoring its opponents, 116-43. While Jeff Tedford's squad was lights out in the first two quarters, they were outscored 105-71 in third periods (thanks mostly to a 29-7 meltdown in the third quarter against Washington State Sept. 28).
Jensen Sets Cal Single Season Scoring Mark with 107 Points, Ranks 2nd in Pac-10 Scoring This Year
Always a consistent performer, Cal's Mark Jensen emerged as one of the country's most prolific kickers in 2002. Among his honors, the Bears' kicker was named one of 20 semifinalists for the Lou Groza Collegiate Place-kicker Award this year and earned Pac-10 Special Teams Player of the Week Sept. 21 when he reeled off a school-record five field goals in a 23-21 loss to Air Force. With six points in the season finale, Jensen set the school's modern day record for points scored (107) in a single season, while his 8.92 ppg average ranks second in the Pac-10 and 17th nationally. He nailed 19 of 27 FG attempts-his 70.4% success rate led the Pac-10-while his 1.58 FGs per game ranks seventh nationally. Jensen also converted a school-record 50-for-51 in PATs, and boomed career-best 51-yard (at Michigan State) and 50-yard (at Oregon State) field goals. He is one of only seven kickers in Cal history to convert two field goals from 50 yards or beyond in their career, and is one of only five kickers to accomplish that feat in the same season. Jensen's 45 career FGs also rank fourth all-time at Cal, trailing only Doug Brien (56), Jim Breech (50) and Robbie Keen (47). With his scoring onslaught this year, Jensen tied for fourth on the school's career Top 10 scoring list with 244 points. His second-quarter miss of an extra point try on Saturday ended his school-record streak of 72 consecutive PATs that dated back to 2000.
Reversal of Fortune: Bears' 6-Win Increase from Last Year Ties for Nation Lead & Ranks 2nd Best Ever at Cal
When you finished last season with the worst record (1-10) by a Cal team in 104 years, you know there's only one way to go ... up. And with their impressive 7-5 mark this season, Tedford's Bears produced one of the biggest one-year turnarounds in college football history. They bettered last year's mark by 6 wins, which ties for the biggest increase among Division 1-A teams this season. And their 5.5-game improvement (margin of wins and losses divided by two) equals the second best one-year turnaround in Cal history. The greatest one-year flip by a Cal team came in 1947, when a man named Lynn "Pappy" Waldorf assumed the head coaching reins and promptly led his Golden Bears to a 9-1 record-a six-and-a-half game improvement from the previous season (2-7 in '46 under Frank Wickhorst).
Swoboda Ranks 1st in Pac-10 Receptions & TD Grabs
The Bears' Tom Swoboda, who snared six or more passes in a game five times this season, has been named one of nine semi-finalists for the John Mackey Award as the nation's best tight end. He ranked second on the team in receptions (42 for 451 yards) and TD catches (7) this year. His 42 grabs also rank first among Pac-10 tight ends, are 24 more receptions than the entire Cal tight end corps snagged all last season, and are the fifth most ever by a Bear tight end. David Lewis (54 for 715 yards, 6 TDs in 1991), George Freitas (50 for 673 yards, 4 TDs in '77), Joe Rose (49 for 567, 4 TDs in '79) and Tony Gonzalez (44 for 699, 5 TDs in '96) are the only tight ends with more catches. Swoboda's seven TD grabs are tied with Oregon's George Wrighster for most by a conference tight end and are the most ever by a Cal tight end. And talk about a personal turnaround, Swoboda had caught only a combined eight passes for 89 yards and no TDs during his three previous seasons in Berkeley.
Bears Sink to 4th in Pac-10 Red Zone Offense
Up until last weekend, Cal had mirrored Jeff Tedford's 2001 Oregon Ducks in three key statistical areas-red zone offense, turnovers lost and sacks allowed. The Bears, who ranked among the Pac-10's top two teams in red zone offense for most of the season, converted only one of five chances inside the 20-yard line in last week's Big Game, however. The final game failures pushed the Bears into fourth place on the season, as they converted 40 of 48 opportunities (83.3%) this year with 27 TDs and 13 field goals. Conversely, opponents scored on 30 of 41 (73.2%) red zone chances. Cal did commit only 18 turnovers this season-20th fewest in the nation-this season and allowed QB Kyle Boller to be sacked only 25 times. In 2001, Tedford's Ducks turned the ball over a NCAA-low 11 times and led the Pac-10 in both fewest sacks (11) and best red zone offense (37-of-39, 94.9%).
The Switcheroo: Cal Changes for the Better in '02
Very few college football programs have undergone such positive one-year transformations the likes of California. In their 11-game schedule last year, the Bears were saddled with an 1-10 record and were outdistanced by an average score of 39.2 points to 18.3 points. Completing its 12-game slate this season, Cal carved out its best record (7-5) since 1994 and outscored its opponents by a margin of 9.1 points (35.6 to 26.5).
Cal to Return 9 Starters-6 on Offense, 2 on Defense, 1 on Special Teams-in 2003
A senior-laden team in 2002, the Bears will still return nine starters for the 2003 season-six on offense, two on defense and one on special teams.
Cal Says Farewell to 24 Seniors
Cal says goodbye to 24 seniors, who capped their collegiate careers by posting the school's first Big Game victory over Stanford in eight years. They include 14 starters: CB Nnamdi Asomugha, DE Tully Banta-Cain, QB Kyle Boller, DE Tom Canada, MLB Marcus Daniels, TB Joe Igber, K Mark Jensen, NT Daniel Nwangwu, CB Jemeel Powell, TE Tom Swoboda, LG Scott Tercero, OLB Paul Ugenti, CB WR LaShaun Ward and FS Bert Watts. A list of the 2002 Cal senior class:
Nnamdi Asomugha, CB Tully Banta-Cain, DE Kyle Boller, QB Tom Canada, DE Jamaal Cherry, DE Marcus Daniels, LB Terrance Dotsy, TE Jeremy Drake, FS Josh Gustaveson, DE Chad Heydorff, WR Calvin Hosey, LB Joe Igber, TB Mark Jensen, K Ryan Jones, C John Klotsche, LB Matt Nixon, LB Daniel Nwangwu, NT Jemeel Powell, CB Derek Swafford, WR Tom Swoboda, TE Scott Tercero, G Paul Ugenti, LB LaShaun Ward, WR Bert Watts, FS
Led by Special Teams, Bears Rip off Big Plays in '02
Another contributing factor to Cal's comeback season was the big play. In their 12 games, the Bears unleashed no less than 22 plays that measured 50 yards and beyond. Cal finished its season ranked first in kickoff return average (24.5, 5th in the NCAA) and third in punt return average (12.8) in the Pac-10. Kick returner LaShaun Ward, who sprang loose for 94 (vs. Arizona), 56 (at Michigan State) and 55 (at Oregon State) yard returns this year, averaged 28.9 yards per return to rank first in the Pac-10, fifth in the NCAA, and fourth on Cal's all-time single season list. Ward, who set a school mark for most kickoff return yards in a season with 809 this year, finished in fifth place on Cal's career KO average chart (24.1 avg., 45 for 1086). Meanwhile, Cal's coverage units were outstanding in 2002, limiting their foes to a 17.4-yard kickoff return average (1st in Pac-10) and 11.2 punt return figure. What's more, Cal special teams scored five touchdowns and blocked seven kicks (four punts and three kicks) this season. The Bears' kicking game was formidable, too, with placekicker Mark Jensen setting his all-time high for FGs in a season with 19, including the fifth (51) and sixth (50) longest in Cal history. Jensen's 19 three-pointers are the fourth most on Cal's single season field goal list, trailing only Randy Pratt (22 in 1983), Robbie Keen (21 in 1988) and Doug Brien (19 in 1991).
Bears' 2003 Schedule Slightly Tougher Than '02
Looking ahead to next year, the Bears will play a 2003 schedule that seemingly rates stronger than this season's slate. As of Nov. 23, foes churned out a .540 winning percentage, registering a combined 75-64 mark. The Bears, who played the nation's 42nd-toughest cumulative schedule (according to current NCAA rankings), faced eight schools this year that are-or have been-nationally ranked in '02. In 2003, Cal will play a schedule featuring teams that combined for a .558 winning percentage (77-61).
Cal's 18 turnovers (8 fumbles, 10 interceptions) ties the school record, first set in 1964 (9 fumbles, 9 interceptions, 10 games) Tom Canada tied for the conference lead with USC's Udeze Kenechi for most forced fumbles with six this year ...Tackle Daniel Nwangu was only one off the Pac-10 lead in fumble recoveries with three ...When Stanford assumed an early 7-0 lead Saturday, it marked the first time this year that Cal did not score first in a game this season ...LaShaun Ward ranks fourth in all-purpose yards per game (19.4) in the Pac-10 ... Cal's 30-7 win over Stanford is only third Bear win in November in the past five years (Cal defeated Arizona State, 55-38, three weeks ago and also beat Rutgers in last year's season finale, 20-10, in New Jersey) ... The Bears' defense held its last three opponents to 87 combined rushing yards, improving Cal's ranking in rushing defense to fifth in the Pac-10 and 23rd nationally at 114.0 yards per game. Stanford managed only 94 yards, while Arizona State netted -2 yards on the ground Nov. 9 and Arizona checked in at -5 ... Under the tutelage of Tedford, Boller completed more than 8% more of his passes this year over his career percentage entering this season. Boller owned a 45.1% figure through his first three years in Berkeley, but this season, he connected at a 53.4% clip ... Cal head man Jeff Tedford has been associated with teams that have carved out a 28-8 record since the start of the 2000 season, as Oregon reeled off 11-1 and 10-2 marks in 2000 and '01 with Tedford serving as offensive coordinator, while Cal has posted a 7-5 record in '02 ... Coincidence or not? Cal was 6-1 in games that were televised this year, 1-4 when there was no live TV ... Thus far this season (prior to Monday's selections this week), Cal landed six Pac-10 Players of the Week, second only to USC's seven selectees as the school with the most in the conference. QB Kyle Boller won the award three times this year by orchestrating road victories at Michigan State, Washington and Arizona State. K Mark Jensen boomed a school-record five field goals in the Air Force loss Sept. 21 to win the award, while PR Jemeel Powell was cited after the Michigan State game for his 90-yard TD punt return and DE Tom Canada earned the award vs. UCLA Oct. 19, following his two-sack, two-forced-fumble effort.